ST. LOUIS - Joe Blanton was in a hurry, on his way to a back room at Busch Stadium to work out. But he had time for a quick answer to the question of how his right elbow feels.
"Managing. We'll see," he said.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee shrugged when asked a few minutes later how concerned he was about the righthander's condition. "It's a concern, that's for sure," he said. "That's why we're trying to manage it the best we can. We'll see where it goes."
Which wouldn't be particularly noteworthy except for the fact that Blanton is scheduled to start against the Rockies tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park.
He went on the disabled list with what was described as medial impingement. He came back after serving the minimum 15 days even though: a) He conceded that he was still experiencing discomfort and b) Vance Worley had been called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley by then, going 2-0, 0.75 in his first two starts.
Worley was optioned back to the IronPigs on Monday when Roy Oswalt was activated and started at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last night. Which begs the question: Why not put Blanton back on the disabled list until his elbow issues are resolved and let Worley start in his place instead?
"It's actually not an injury. It's soreness. So we don't think we're risking injury with him. He's actually pitched fine, so there's no real reason to put him on the DL," explained Ruben Amaro Jr.
Blanton is 1-1, 4.50 in two starts since being activated, so the general manager is correct to say he's been all right. But he also conceded that this goes beyond the usual soreness that any pitcher is going to experience.
"Maybe a little more than normal," he said. "But Joe wants to pitch, too. He wants to take the baseball. That's kind of part of the game. He wants to take the baseball and if he didn't, he wouldn't be pitching."
Again, though, why not let Worley pitch until Blanton is 100 percent?
"Because we'd rather have Blanton pitch," Amaro said, and there you have it.
John Mayberry Jr. got his third straight start last night, while catcher Carlos Ruiz was out of the lineup.
With the lineup continuing to have trouble producing runs, Charlie Manuel appears committed to giving Mayberry a good look. "Right now, we're seeing what our guys can do. That's what John has to do. He's got to show that he can play and play regular and hit in a big-league lineup. John is very talented," the manager said.
Ruiz has one hit in his last 32 at-bats (.031), a slump that started before he went on the disabled list with lower-back inflammation. But that's not the biggest reason he sat last night.
Ruiz had played 2 days in a row. So the Phillies are going to take precautions to try to ensure that his back problems don't flare up again. And with the team charter not scheduled to arrive back in Philadelphia until the middle of the night, it seemed to make sense to rest him.
Chase Utley (patellar tendinitis, right knee) was off last night. He is expected to resume playing tonight and play two full games back to back for Class A Clearwater. If he gets through that without having a physical setback, then it should be just a matter of him feeling comfortable at the plate before being activated.
Utley texted Ruben Amaro yesterday. "He said he's feeling pretty good, quote-unquote," the general manager said.
Shane Victorino missed his third straight game with a strained right hamstring. He'll undergo tests when the team gets home, possibly including an MRI, but is improving and could be back in a few days. Amaro: "He's progressing, but we're going to be cautious with him. We don't want him to injure it any further."
Outfielder Domonic Brown, who missed five games with a sprained right thumb, was back in the lineup for Triple A Lehigh Valley last night.